Tag Archives: Robots

“Love This? Try This!” and Review – “Sleeping Giants”

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Poster: here; book: here

I wasn’t allowed to watch The X-Files when I was younger; you see, I was very impressionable. Still am. If you look back through the Shrews archives, you’ll see plenty of evidence of my ongoing problem with reverse-projection, or adopting the feelings of the characters in books/on TV. My parents assumed The X-Files would scare me, so I lived twenty-some odd years of my life sans-Mulder before my eyes were opened to the majesty of Fox and Dana, the Smoking Man, conspiracies aplenty, and the “I want to believe” poster. ***Sidebar: that new season?! Amazeness!!***

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel is The X-Files in book form.

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of the relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

The whole time I was reading this novel, I just could not get over how much it felt like The X-Files. It has science, government conspiracies, potential aliens, political intrigue, and a mysterious Puppet-Master; the only thing it’s missing is Mulder in 90’s jeans (YUM!).

But honestly, this was a very interesting read. Much akin to Illuminae, the format is a-typical, since the whole novel is told via interviews, journal entries, and military reports. This made it a very quick read but it also included a lot of scientific mumbo jumbo when interviewing certain characters, so I got bogged down a few times. Pierce Brown’s blurb likened it to Wier’s The Martian, which managed to subtly integrate science and math into an action packed sequence of events. Neuvel attempted to accomplish the same feat, but it wasn’t nearly as effortless and fluid. I ended up skimming over these parts instead of tolerating science long enough to subconsciously learn something.

Otherwise, I loved the format. I’d like to see more variance next time; about 90% of the story was told in interviews and I think more sources and more rotation would keep readers more interested. Illuminae did it best, but Secret Giants isn’t too far behind.

The main issue for me was that the characters were not particularly likable. This is partly due to the ways in which these characters were portrayed; some were cold and distant, some were psychopaths, some were pathetic, and the rest were entirely forgettable. Only one character was likable, but maybe that’s because I don’t often relate to the militaristic, emotionally damaged bossypants. The other possibility is that the unreliable narration did its job and I’m not sure whom I trust. This honestly may not be a problem for other readers, but it was a problem for me. I have a hard time committing, emotionally, to a book if I can’t forge a connection with any of the characters. Don’t believe me? Ask my review of The Girl on the Train.

Overall, 4 stars. It wasn’t a book that consumed my thoughts when I wasn’t able to read, but it was certainly an interesting and unique idea. It was moderately clean; minor sexual references; I don’t remember curse words… definitely a good choice for anyone interested in science, robotics, and/or aliens.

P.S. it’s the first in a series and the epilogue did a serious mic-drop DRAMA moment, so I’m jazzed to keep going!

I want to believe!!!

 

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Filed under Book Review, Lindsay, Wednesdays with Lind-say!

L: Review of “The Mechanical” by Ian Tregillis

The Mechanical

Click here for Goodreads

I feel… unresolved, having just completed Ian Tregillis’s The Mechanical. I was promised a story about a race of servant robots, or “Mechanicals,” that cater to humans oblivious of their servants’ seemingly unobtainable but feverish desire for Free Will. A Dutch monarch has invaded France and exiled the French people and their King to what I assume is current day America. Mechanicals are treated by humans as merely helpful but unthinking possessions; however, they have minds and thoughts of rebellion. Any sympathizing or attempts to free Mechanicals from servitude is punishable by death, as freedom of their working class would remove all power from the Dutch empire. That is what I was promised and that is what I received. And yet, having completed the novel, I can’t help but feel so utterly… incomplete.

I’d imagine this is what it’s like to get dumped after what you thought was a perfect date; I do not understand what has just transpired and I’m gonna need some closure, here! I just listened to Tregillis prattle on for over 400 pages only to be left with zero resolution and all of my characters in a state of perilous limbo. And maybe that’s my problem: in terms of a compelling and complete stand-alone novel, The Mechanical is utterly insufficient. I understand that this book was written with the intent of being the first in a series, and more power to Tregillis. I do love a series. But I’m of a mind that any individual work should be able to be separated from the group and still offer the full development, climax, resolution that readers seek. By all means, leave a few plot lines dangling on the brink of mayhem; keep those readers coming back for more. But not every single one! Don’t toss every single main character into seemingly unavoidable peril in the last chapter and then hit me with the acknowledgements.

Honestly, I’m just surprised by the abrupt ending of this novel. I hate to continually compare a series to Harry Potter, LOTR, or SoIaF, but at least each of those volumes were left with an element of closure; Harry lives to see another year at Hogwarts, but Voldy is still alive; Frodo and Sam are plugging along towards Mordor, but that will be dangerous without the rest of the company; Little Finger just went nuts on Lysa Arryn, but that probably bodes well for Sansa. A good mid-series volume ties up a few ends but holds a string of potential trouble and a few dangling story lines which ensure you’ll be back. The Mechanical offered a hailstorm of misery, then “The End.” I’m not sure whether I’ll continue the series in the future; I guess I’ll let myself decide when the time comes.

What does everyone else think? Should a volume in a series be able to stand alone or should they be so heavily connected that one is incomplete without the others? I’d love to know what everyone thinks. I’m not giving up on Tregillis; although the story itself was frustrating, the writing and story-telling was wonderful, and I’ve heard good things about his other novel, Bitter Seeds, so that is my next endeavor. Stay tuned!

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Filed under Book Review, Lindsay, Wednesdays with Lind-say!